Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Dead Girls by Jorge Ibarguengoitia

The Dead Girls by Jorge Ibargüengoitia
First published in Mexico in 1981. English language translation by A Zatz published by Chatto And Windus in 1983.

One of my WorldReads from Mexico

How I got this book:
Bought at a charity shop

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Opening with a crime of passion after a years-long love affair has soured, The Dead Girls soon plunges into an investigation of something even darker: Serafina Baladro and her sister run a successful brothel business in a small town, so successful that they begin to expand. But when business starts to falter, life in the brothel turns ugly, and slowly, girls start disappearing . . .

Based on real events, the story of serial-killing brothel owners Delfina and María de Jésus González, whose crimes were uncovered in 1964, The Dead Girls is a deliciously satirical black comedy - a potent blend of sex and mayhem. Written in the laconic tones of a police report, it cleverly uncovers the hopeless pedantry of a broken justice system, and the dark world of prostitution.

I found this novel in my local Oxfam bookshop in English translation. It was only £2 so I didn't have great expectations but was pleasantly surprised. The story, fiction but inspired by a true event, is written with dry humour in a style that often reads like police reports interspersed with witness statements. Set in 1960s Mexico, it tells of two sisters, Los Poquinchis, who ran a number of brothels with the tacit approval of the local authorities and whose decade-long killing spree came to light in 1964. The plot is not that of a standard crime thriller however and incorporates a lot of black humour. The characters develop as we discover more about them and all their actions are completely believable given the circumstances in which they find themselves. The Dead Girls is very readable and Jorge has great understanding of human nature and motivation. An enjoyable read and a satisfying novel.

Etsy Find!
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Books by Jorge Ibarguengoitia / Crime fiction / Books from Mexico

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